Basic Energy Efficency Choices – Let do the basics first!

June 23, 2008 at 10:26 pm 1 comment

I know that there has been a lot of coverage in the news and on various blogs including my own about all of the new and wiz bang new things you can get for your building to make it more energy efficient. However with all of this concentration on the newest and most high tech a lot of buildings aren’t taking care of the basics to save energy and money!

These basic items are truly low hanging fruit not only easy to do but with return on investment times calculated in months if not days in some cases.

First let’s talk about lighting, plain old fluorescent tubes.  It is estimated that and very large percentage of the total electric load of a commercial building is found in the lighting.  If you haven’t changed out those old T-12 light fixtures or at least modified them to use T-8 bulbs with electronic ballasts, do this first and do it now!  The cost to upgrade is around $100 a fixture which can be recovered in as little as 12 months.

Next on the lighting hit parade is parking lot lighting.  These fixtures tend to be big and expensive to run if you are in retail environment.  It is common for these fixtures to be left on all night and for them to be run by a simple time clock.  There are several suggestions I can offer here.

First is to add to the time clock circuit a photocell.  It works like this.  In the circuit the photo cell is inserted between the time clock and the activation relays.  This dynamically adjusts the on and off times of the system to the ever changing sunst and sunrise times.  Estimated cost $200, ROI 30days.

Also you should look at your lighting plan and see if there are lights that can safely be turned off at closing time.  A photometric analysis may be required for a good set of data to make this decision.  However the savings here could be pretty large as sometimes these light may be up to a 1000 watts each.  After you have determined if any can safely be turned off you will have to do some rewiring of the lighting array, perhaps adding another time clock and photocell. Estimated Cost $1000  ROI 3- 6 months.

Now with all the publicity I hope that you have changed out all of those incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents or even LED bulbs.  However if you haven’t get started!

Another often overlooked task that helps with the electric bill is air conditioning and heater maintenance. Changing filters and cleaning condenser fins can net as much a 20% efficiency boost for the system.  Also if it is in your capital budget look into changing out your oldest unit with a new higher SEER rated unit.

Lastly tonight I would suggest considering and old solution that hasn’t gotten much good press lately, window tinting.  At least in California you get no credit under Title 24, our energy efficiency code, but that doesn’t mean that if won’t do you some good.  Window tinting has several advantages including lessening heat load on your building by 1-2%, lengthening the life of the textiles in the office spaces and in earthquake prone areas providing some extra security against flying glass.

I hope that these suggestions help you and if you have any questions specifically about the calculations on the ROI or other related questions please drop me a line at the email address below!

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to:

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Entry filed under: Compliance, Maintenance, Recycling, Technology. Tags: , .

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